Thunderbolts: Civil War - Swimming With Sharks

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, from Thunderbolts 103-105

Civil War - Swimming With Sharks
"Taking Civil Liberties" Thunderbolts 103 (September 2006)* **
Scenes from "Iron Man: Civil War" Iron Man 14 (2006)
"Taking Civil Liberties/Homeland Insecurity" Thunderbolts 104 (October 2006)* **
"Swimming With Sharks" Thunderbolts 105 (November 2006)**
"Embedded (Parts 2-3)" Civil War: Front Line 2, 3 (2006)
"The Accused (Parts 2-3)" Civil War: Front Line 2, 3 (2006)
"Civil War: The Program" Civil War: Front Line 2 (2006)
"Sleeper Cell (Part 1)" Civil War: Front Line 3 (2006)
* Reprinted in a second printing
** Reprinted in Civil War: Thunderbolts - Swimming With Sharks (comic)
and in Civil War: Thunderbolts (trade)


Reader Rating: Above Average

Summary: In the wake of Spider-Man's unmasking, the Civil War heats up...

Thunderbolts: Iron Man recruits Zemo and the Thunderbolts to apprehend super-villains and recruit them to the government's -- and Zemo's -- causes. Zemo pursues both "Operation: Justice Like Lightning" (defense against the Grandmaster) and the pro-Registration's Fifty States Initiative. While using the moonstones to help pro-Registration forces build an "escape proof" prison (known as "42"), he also bargains with Captain America, offering a key to that same prison in exchange for Cap's cooperation when the Grandmaster strikes.

Three college students steal old versions of Abe's armor to become the three Beetles. Dallas and Peter Gyrich represent the CSA. Significant appearances from Mr. Fantastic, Tony Stark as Iron Man and Henry Pym as Yellowjacket. Captain America is assisted by Daredevil, The Falcon and Hercules. The Grandmaster and the Squadron Sinister (Dr. Spectrum, Hyperion, Nightwing, Speed Demon) lurk in the background.

The Thunderbolts Army includes (notably) Blacklash, Bushmaster, Dr. Octopus, The Eel, King Cobra, Quicksand, Mongoose, Ox, "Snake" Marston, The Porcupine, Rattler, The U-Foes (Ironclad, Vapor, Vector, X-Ray), The Unicorn, Whiplash, and (briefly) Ajaxis, Aqueduct, Asylum, Batroc, Bloodstrike, Boomerang, Coronary, Death Adder, Killer Shrike, Machete, Over-Mind, Pretty Persuasions, Primus, Red Ronin, Slyde, Smiling Tiger, Tatterdemalion, Texas Twister, Vermin, Whirlwind, and Zaran.

Iron Man: (Page 1) Chen Lu is seen in a Stark Tower conference with Bishop, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel and Stark. (Page 3) Zemo and Stark meet at the "CSA Criminal Rehab Unit", where some of Zemo's army are temporarily imprisoned.

The Program: Norman Osborn is shown Parker's unmasking on television, and asked by SHIELD agents if he is "prepared to play by a new set of rules."

Embedded: Reporters Ben Urich and Sally Floyd witness a series of violent battles between Pro- and Anti- forces. Ben meets the newly unmasked Peter Parker, and Mr. Fantastic shows Ben mathematical "proof" that Registration is necessary. Bullseye is the butt of a joke on late night TV.

The Accused: Robbie Baldwin is sent to prison and discovers that everyone blames him for the deaths at Stamford, even the bad guys. His lawyer, She-Hulk, tries to get him a deal, but he refuses to cooperate.

Sleeper Cell: Police begin investigation of an explosion at a fish store. They theorize that "someone dressed in a funny costume" caused the explosion -- but they don't yet know that the store's owner, now gone missing, is an Atlantean in human disguise.

Continuity: Donny is back in action with a "new and improved freon suit."

The interior of Thunderbolts #104 repeats the title "Taking Civil Liberties" from #103, but the second printing cover provides the clever alternate title "Homeland Insecurity."

Comments: Fabian Nicieza's run on Thunderbolts has had its up and downs, but in "Taking Civil Liberties", he hits one of his peaks, weaving witty characterizations with a plot evolving in two directions, while revealing the increased depth of Zemo's personality. The other T-Bolts chapters are good, but "Liberties" stands as the best single issue in years.

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This page was revised on June 22, 2008

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